Do you feel confident with your smile? Teeth come in many shapes and sizes and there’s not much we can do to change them.

Some people feel that their teeth appear too large when they smile. But rarely are a person’s teeth actually larger than what’s considered normal. Sometimes, a person might have a small jaw, and that could make their teeth appear larger.

When a person has teeth that are more than two standard deviations larger than the average for their age and gender, they’re known to have a condition called macrodontia. Macrodontia in permanent teeth is thought to affect 0.03 to 1.9 percent of people worldwide.

Often, those with macrodontia have one or two teeth in their mouth that’re unusually large. Sometimes two teeth grow together, forming an extra-large tooth. In other cases, single teeth grow abnormally large.

People with macrodontia sometimes also have larger than normal pituitary glands and experience enlargement of the features on one side of the face. Genetics, environment, race, and hormone problems may cause macrodontia. Men and Asians are more likely to experience this condition than other people.

According to experts, there’s no definite cause of macrodontia. Instead, it seems that several different factors may increase a person’s chances for developing the condition. These include:

Genetics and other genetic conditions

Genetics appear to be a likely cause of macrodontia. According to researchers, genetic mutations that regulate tooth growth could cause teeth to grow together. These mutations could also cause the teeth to continue growing without stopping at the right time. This results in larger than normal teeth.

Other genetic conditions often occur with macrodontia, including:

Childhood

Childhood years could also play a role in developing macrodontia. Factors such as diet, exposure to toxins or radiation, and other environmental factors can affect a person’s likelihood of developing macrodontia.

Race

Researchers have observed that Asians, Native Americans, and Alaskans are more likely to develop macrodontia than people of other races.

Gender

Males are more likely than females to develop macrodontia, according to researchers.

Hormone problems

Some of the genetic conditions associated with macrodontia are also associated with hormonal imbalances. These hormonal problems, such as those related to the pituitary gland, may cause irregular tooth growth and size.

A dentist can diagnose macrodontia by performing a dental exam and taking X-rays of your teeth. After they make a diagnosis, your dentist will recommend a specific course of treatment.

If they can’t find any cause of your enlarged teeth, they may recommend that you visit a cosmetic dentist. A cosmetic dentist can tell you what treatment options can improve the look of your teeth.

Orthodontics

Orthodontics can help straighten your teeth and expand your jaw if necessary. A device called a palate expander can stretch your jaw so your teeth fit better in your mouth.

A dentist may use braces and a retainer to help straighten your teeth if they’re crooked. A wider jaw and straighter teeth can give each tooth more room. This can reduce tooth crowding and make your teeth appear smaller.

If a dentist thinks you’d benefit from these devices, they may refer you to an orthodontist. An orthodontist specializes in applying these kinds of devices to the teeth and mouth.

Teeth shaving

Another cosmetic option for those with macrodontia is to try teeth shaving. This procedure is sometimes called tooth recontouring. During a tooth shaving session, a cosmetic dentist will use a gentle sanding device to remove some of the outside of your teeth to give them a smoother look.

Removing a small amount of the outside of your teeth reduces their size slightly. This makes them look slightly smaller. Teeth shaving is especially effective in reducing the length of the canine teeth on the sides of your mouth.

While shaving teeth is safe for most people, those who have weak teeth should avoid this procedure. Before teeth shaving, a dentist should take X-rays to make sure your teeth are fit for the procedure.

Shaving down weakened teeth could expose their interior, causing pain and permanent damage. If you have healthy teeth you shouldn’t experience pain during a session.

Teeth removal

Removing some teeth can help space out existing teeth in the mouth. This can help your teeth appear less crowded and smaller. Or, you might remove the large teeth affected by macrodontia.

Your dentist may recommend you visit an oral surgeon for your tooth removal procedure. Later, you can replace your removed teeth with false teeth or dentures to improve the appearance of your mouth.

For most people, the perception of having large teeth is just that. While relatively rare, macrodontia is a real and challenging condition that can affect your self-esteem.

If you’ve been having trouble coping with macrodontia, there are several ways to improve the appearance of your teeth. Visit a dentist to learn more about your treatment options and to determine which might be best for you.